|Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
In this virtual world, it’s easy to feel you’re invisible, and if you’re a travel advisor, you might feel completely invisible from time to time. The generation growing up didn’t see a local travel agency office in their town, and many older consumers these days don’t know how to find a travel agent.
This presents a true challenge to you but it’s your responsibility to make yourself visible on the consumer landscape. Yes, you can rely on Google and search engine optimization to make your company appear when people look for travel online, but when was the last time you went out and did something in your community, or attended a Rotary meeting in your town? This is not about networking, not about handing your business card out to people you’ve met—it’s more about actually rolling up your sleeves and participating to get a task done that will benefit your area so you can get to know your neighbors.
Think about it. Do you have business cards piled up in your desk drawer from people you’ve met over the past year? Do you actually remember who any of those folks are? What if you had actually participated on a committee with one of them to accomplish a common goal, actually gotten to know them and their business? Perhaps you bonded and realized you could help one another with business strategies. If so, you’ve got a new pied piper, someone who understands what a travel agent does and who can bring your name and your services up in a conversation the next time they hear of someone planning a trip. That's visibility.
You also need to get yourself seen by blogging for a community site and writing for your local newspaper (yes, having a column in print can go a long way. People still clip articles and save them to show a spouse or a friend).
While we're on paper and print, I’ve heard some travel advisors say that doing a custom mailing to clients has generated positive response, especially with the millennial market. Why? In this age of electronic communications, they rarely get personal snail mail so when they receive a piece of paper actually addressed to them they feel special. Go figure.
Speaking of making yourself visible, in this issue we celebrate the top sales reps in the travel industry. Sales reps are all about making their companies visible but they’re also about celebrating you. Your success is their success. We asked you to nominate who you feel is doing a great job and to give us the reasons why they stand out. For me, the heroic amount of travel they do is always impressive. The next time you have a sales rep coming to your office, ask them where they’ve just been and where they’re going next. What they tell you will likely include planes, trains, long car rides and layovers, often in bad weather, with very little time spent at home. It’s a tough life and they should be thanked every time you see them.
Here’s another tip: Make your sales rep visits worthwhile. If you accept their invitation to meet, make it a point to sell their product after they’re gone. Otherwise, it all just becomes one endless conversation where you’re all looking at photos and nodding, only to forget all the new things they’ve told you when the next supplier comes along for a visit. It’s not just about time spent together; it’s about forming a partnership that will be a win-win for both of you.